Bob Polito is the newest Atherton City Council member. He fills the vacancy left by former Vice Mayor Mike Lempres, who moved to Paris this fall.
The council voted 3-1 to appoint Polito, a town audit and finance committee member for over 8 years, at a Monday, Nov. 15, meeting. He will fill the rest of Lempres term, which ends in November 2022.
"I simply put my hat in the ring in case you needed me," Polito told the council. "I could be a fallback."
Polito said he'd be an asset to the council because, as the town wraps up its $32 million new civic center project, he can help navigate the "colossal" unfunded pension liabilities the town is facing. He noted he is pretty vested in the whole issue, having served on the audit and finance committee. (For example, the town's anticipated pension liabilities payment is for fiscal year 2021-22 is $1.4 million, an increase of $236,289, according to the town budget).
Councilman Rick DeGolia said it was important to choose a candidate who isn't planning to run for the seat in November 2022.
"I think the most honest way to be elected to this council is to run in a competitive race," DeGolia said. "Next year we're going to have a race where three of us will run and I think it's important that that be an open and very fair, democratic election."
Each council member voted for his or her favorite candidate. Councilwoman Diana Hawkins-Manuelian was the one vote for Stacy Miles, an environmental programs committee member.
There were two other applicants for the position: Rose Hau, a former Planning Commission member; and Susan Warren, a coordinator for Atherton Disaster and Preparedness Team (ADAPT). Greg Conlon, who has served on various town committees over the years, withdrew his application before the Nov. 15 meeting, said City Manager George Rodericks.
Mayor Elizabeth Lewis said she hopes each applicant runs for the council next November.
Polito holds a bachelor's degree in engineering from Northwestern University, according to his application.
Polito leaves a vacancy on the audit and finance committee.
Lempres served on the council for nearly seven years before resigning his post on Oct. 15.
Watch the full meeting here.